CFA CFA Level 1 Strategy is Everything

Strategy is Everything

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    • Avatar of jroberts32jroberts32
        • CFA Charterholder

        The CFA Curriculum is broken out into 18 study sessions and 63 readings.  Your goal is to get through the entire curriculum in under 6 months while retaining as much information as you can to beat the roughly 60% chance that you will be retaking the exam next year.  Every candidate is different and demands a customized study strategy to get through the curriculum, especially while trying to manage their personal lives and career aspirations.

        Below is my list of techniques that will get you closer to success.  I personally used each one of these to get me through the CFA curriculum on my first attempts.

        • Take 5 months to study for each exam, no more and no less
          • 4 months to get through the curriculum and 1 month to review
        •  Study more than 400 hours, not 300 hours
        • Track and forecast your time to make sure you will hit greater than 400 hours. (If you can’t do this then stop studying, your beyond help.)
        • Take at least 3 full length practice tests (2 broken up and 1 full test simulation)
        • Stay inside and study during memorial day weekend

        I can’t say that if you follow the list above you will pass but hopefully it will give you a better chance.  The curriculum was made to be studied within a 5 month period.  If you spread it out much longer you will not remember anything and if you cut it any shorter you probably will not finish on time.  The average amount of time is 300 hours but that also includes the individuals that did not pass.   I tracked every hour that I studied for all three levels and I put in just over 400 hours for each level.  Each level of the curriculum is massive and I did not waste time getting through the material.  Why track your hours, because it holds you accountable, and it keeps you on pace to finish on time, especially when it comes to the end during your review time. Next, its all about practice, practice, practice.  Do not do flashcards and memorize information.  Create notes or create flashcards but do not memorize information, if you do you will fail.  You must review information and practice over and over until test day.  I recommend getting at least 3 full length practice tests in (at the minimum).  This is the secret to passing your first time!!! If you practice it will not matter if you are a horrible test taker.

        Lastly, lets review the Analyst Tutorials study app.  The app laid out every item that you need to-do to pass your first time.  As mentioned above there are 18 study sessions and 63 readings.  The apps methodology is very simple.  For every reading you must:

        • Read the section
        • Create notes or flashcards
        • Do end of reading questions
        • Review problem areas

        Then after you complete an entire study session you must do 20 questions from a question bank, and repeat until you get higher than 80%.  Analyst Tutorials highly recommends Schweser for everything, especially for their qbank and practice tests.

        Many candidates do not know the order for which to complete the curriculum.  I believe the best way is to follow the curriculum straight through except for ethics. Read ethics in the beginning and then come back at the end to read it again and test on it.  The study guide app will help you stay on track, and help you pass your first time. 

        You can sign up for the Analyst Tutorials App for free at  

      • Avatar of mattycmattyc
          • CFA Charterholder

          Everyone studies differently so suggesting that if you do/dont do it a certain way you will fail is ridiculous. Overall I mostly agree with this but posting 2 weeks before the L1 exam is a bit late.

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